Echo chamber or self-filter?

Fact-checking in the Echo Chamber Nation

At a Republican campaign rally a few years ago, I asked one of the attendees how he got his news.

“I listen to Rush and read NewsMax,” he said. “And to make sure I’m getting a balanced view, I watch Fox.”

My liberal friends get their information from distinctly different sources — Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Rachel Maddow. To make sure they get a balanced view, they click Facebook links — from their liberal friends.

This is life in our echo chamber nation. We protect ourselves from opinions we don’t like and seek reinforcement from like-minded allies.

The paradox of the Internet age is that never before have we had access to more ideas and different thoughts. And yet, many of us retreat into comfy parlors where everyone agrees and the other side is always wrong. Each side can manufacture its truths and get the chorus to sing along.


Where you get your news says a lot about you and your political beliefs. If your primary source is FOX News you are probably a right-winger. But are you a right-winger because you watch FOX or do you watch FOX because you’re a right-winger?

Eleven months ago a mentally-ill young man in Tucson walked into a supermarket and shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords along with nineteen other people. Six were killed and fourteen were wounded.

Right after the shooting took place when only the sketchiest facts were known, some people were already convinced that the shooting was connected to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Eleven months later no such connection has yet been shown. In fact, if anything Jared Loughner was a left-wing nutjob. (In May, 2011 a judge ruled that Loughner was incompetent to stand trial.)

And yet today there are many people who are still convinced that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party were responsible for Loughner’s actions. If you try to tell them otherwise they will get angry.

The reason is that in their minds the connection between Loughner, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin fits a pre-conceived narrative. That narrative says that the Tea Party is filled with angry, violent racist wingnuts with guns.

These preconceived narratives exist on both sides. They are tribal narratives. They tell us that “we” are the good guys and “they” are the bad guys.

If you try to buck the narratives of your tribe you run the risk of being outcast and shunned. They might even call you a ratfucker.

Maybe that’s what they mean when they say “The truth hurts.”


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19 Responses to Echo chamber or self-filter?

  1. yttik says:

    Never mind the Right, liberal used to mean being open minded, tolerant, believing in equal rights. We used to run around talking about promoting diversity, being open to new ideas, advocating healthy debate. I don’t know what happened, but those days are gone now. Everything that drew me towards the left, towards Dems, feels like it just died over night. Now there is nothing left but an echo chamber. It’s repressive, it’s controlling, and it just doesn’t suit a rebel like me.

  2. Lulu says:

    This is probably why more and more people are self identifying as independent. They do not want to be cast as either tribe as currently defined. Or the tribe has thrown them out and they find they like it. It took a little while to adjust but being tribe-less is not so bad. We will probably form into a new tribe as some point. But tribes that do not grow die out, split up, or get absorbed into another tribe.

  3. Cate says:

    Well said MyIQ, Yttik and Lulu. Well said.

  4. Ann says:

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111223/business/712239813/

    Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire who is by far the wealthiest of the Republican presidential candidates, said he has no plans to release his income tax returns if he wins his party’s nomination.

    The Obama campaign response:

    “Why does Governor Romney feel like he can play by a different set of rules?” Ben LaBolt, Obama’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “What is it that he doesn’t want the American people to see? Previous candidates have disclosed their returns so Americans could be aware of potential conflicts of interest and gauge whether a candidate had gamed the tax system to their advantage.”

    School records anyone? Medical records? White House visitor list? And the list goes on.

    Chutzpah thy definition is Obama.

    • Mary says:

      Well…..he IS the fourth best president in history, you know–better than Washington, Jefferson, or Madison. (snort)

      Why did Mr. Obama and his supporters think he could play by different rules in 2008?

      Chutzpah, indeed. Ugh.

  5. yttik says:

    Something that’s always bothered me about Obama, how did he grow up in Hawaii and miss all the rich and diverse lessons that you can’t help but learn? I spent many years in Hawaii as a kid and I guess i just was on the wrong side of the tracks or something, because I sure don’t agree with Obama here,

    “It’s interesting…. Deep down underneath all the work I do, I think there’s a laziness in me. It’s probably from growing up in Hawaii, and it’s sunny outside. Sitting on the beach.” – President Obama

    That’s what the tourists do!! The rest of us, we worked from dusk till dawn. “Work” was actually recreation too, because after work, you’d go fishing, hunting, working in the garden, cooking, cleaning. Even on the beach, who just sits? If we had one spare moment of free time, we’d sneak off and surf, not with a real board, but with a piece of plywood or styrofoam. I darn near cut my finger off surfing on a piece of sheet metal, but those were the good old days.

    • DandyTiger says:

      When you have a multi-milionare step father and a multimillionaire grandmother, it’s pretty easy to be lazy.

  6. DeniseVB says:

    I found this interesting ….

    http://biggovernment.com/jpollak/2011/12/22/top-ten-democrats-who-would-be-better-presidential-candidates-than-obama-in-2012/

    I’m a huge fan of Cory Booker, indeed a rising star most have never heard of.

  7. foxyladi14 says:

    The Obama campaign response:

    “Why does Governor Romney feel like he can play by a different set of rules?” Ben LaBolt, Obama’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “What is it that he doesn’t want the American people to see? Previous candidates have disclosed their returns so Americans could be aware of potential conflicts of interest and gauge whether a candidate had gamed the tax system to their advantage.” :lol; 😆 :lol;

  8. foxyladi14 says:

    monkey see monkey do 😆

  9. anony says:

    “If you try to buck the narratives of your tribe you run the risk of being outcast and shunned. They might even call you a ratfucker.”

    that’s why you continue to be one of my top reads each day & RD is read only rarely – you tell the truth without whining & the truth does hurt. thanks for the politifact story & reminder re tribalism.

  10. rangoon 78 says:

    Yeah, I was shocked when Joe Cannon listed you as a ratfucker. I used to follow you and Joe and Vast Left and Lambert and Big Tent and Riverdaughter and Basement Angel (rest her soul) and even Taylor Marsh at one time. Obasma was a unificator not a dividificator I guess. now there is a lot of rancor. wha sup? Cyber tribal trouble?

  11. DandyTiger says:

    Honk, Honk.

  12. Carolyn says:

    I know you guys have all moved on, but I want you to know that I value this place as an oasis and a spot where interesting topics are discussed honestly. I am tired of the horseshit…and the whining on the lib side. Changed my registration to independent after the disaster in 2008 leading to the coronation of “the one”, then changed again to R in Oct ’11, so I could vote in the R primary, and now, there won’t be much of an R primary it looks like, just another coronation, so I guess I will change back to independent, but I am weary….I lost total hope and interest once Sarah decided not to run, but I can’t imagine how she could have dealt with all of this day in and day out. It exhausts me just to read about it all.

    Anyway, myiqx2, I wanted you to know that I have had a crush on you since I first began to read you when I retreated with all the Hillary supporters from DK etc, and ended up in what seemed to be a temporary haven at TC…followed you here….(blinking eyelashes…blushes)

    Don’t let the B’s get you down…

    Carolyn

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